Monday, August 16, 2010

Is the UNESCO Underwater Heritage Convention Well Considered?

Following up a New Orleans conference in February 2010, eight scientists (six from the United States) have published a report titled "Underwater Cultural Heritage & UNESCO in New Orleans: An Introduction". The Underwater Cultural Heritage Convention was approved by the UNESCO General Conference in November of 2001, and went into force for ratifying states in January 2009. To date 32 nations have ratified the Convention, not including the United States of America. (Nor have France, Germany, Japan, Russia, Sweden nor the United Kingdom among many other non-ratifiers.)

The report is quite critical of aspects of the Convention, as is demonstrated by this excerpt:
For now, a feeling remains in many heritage and scientific circles that sections of the Convention are an unenforceable set of Utopian rules and regulations compiled by legal teams who incorporated minimal fundamental input from archaeologists. If the initiative is compared to terrestrial archaeology, where countries would react with outrage to any supposition that they need to be centrally supervized so intimately from abroad, many marine archaeologists with decades of experience and contribution are highly concerned about why they are suddenly being forcefully re-educated in their core competencies.

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